The Freelancer’s Guide to Long-Term Contracts

When I first started freelancing in 2007, I was all over the map to try and find work. Crawling Craigslist, searching forums, all the way to bugging everyone I knew to see if they had work. When I would luck out and find a client, I’d forget that once the project was over I’d be back to square one and have to start searching again.

Marketing works, sometimes…

I realized what I needed was better marketing. Actually, “better” implies that I had marketing to begin with. Let’s say I realized that I needed some form of marketing to start with.

After a few months, I found out that this marketing thing really works. If I talked about my services, eventually someone would buy them. Great! I’ve mastered this business thing.

Or not.

You see, once I won a new client I’d stop marketing. With only 24 hours in the day, I couldn’t figure out how to both serve my clients and keeping my marketing going so I had new clients coming up. I’m sure you’ve had the same thing occur.

So for awhile I just kept up this cycle of market, get a client, stop marketing, finish a client, start marketing, get a client. But then I noticed something…

“We’d like to work with you again”

I started to keep clients longer than just one project. Our contract would finish up and they’d want to renew it with me. And renew it for longer.

At one time, I had three long-term clients going at once. One on a 12-month contract, one on a 9-month contract, and another on a 12-month contract.

That’s when I realized that as long as I kept these three clients happy, I don’t ever need to book another new client unless I wanted to.

With this kind of stability I was able to experiment with my business more. Instead of working 8-10 hour days, I could take some time off. Instead of only making enough money to survive on, I was starting to accumulate a nest egg in my savings account.

Best of all, I was starting to realize the freedom of owning my own business.

Those clients and I have since parted ways but not until many years of working together. But I was curious, was this just a fluke? Did I stumble into finding the perfect set of clients that let me work with them in the long-term?

Let me see if I can make this into a system

So I took on a new project, where the primary need was urgent help (a rescue project). You know, that kind of project where they needed to hire you last month?

Could I turn this project, one with a very short-term goal, into a long-term repeat client like before?

9 months later: Yes. (And it was one of the most profitable clients I’ve worked with to date).

So that’s when I “discovered” that the market, client, restart marketing cycle I was stuck in early on isn’t required. There is a better way to conduct a freelance business. A way that is less stressful, creates more revenue, and builds better client relationships.

What if…

What if you didn’t have to sell as often?

I used to struggle with the sales process. As an introvert, I would dread sales calls even with people I had an established rapport with. Something about them brought the fight-or-flight response front and center.

But what if instead of dozens of sales calls a year, I only had to do four? What if these sales calls were with existing clients I’ve been already working with for 12 months?

What if your revenue stopped having so many spikes and dips, and instead stayed constant?

Early on in my business I had a few five-figure months. They came with a mixed bag of emotions.

I’d be ecstatic because, well, it’s a five-figure month. That means I can buy things.

But I’d also worry. Worried that the next month would be low because the contract ended. Worried that I couldn’t find a replacement client. Worried that this was the turning point and my business was about to collapse.

What would it be like if instead of worrying about where my next payment would come from, I’d know that my client is good for it because they’ve sent the last ten on time?

What if you knew your clients so well that you could predict what they’re thinking?

Much of working with clients is figuring out what they want, what they say they want, and what they need. Problems come up when all three are different and you don’t know how to tell them.

But what if I knew how my clients think and an anticipate what they really need? Just think about how much smoother projects would run.

What if you can build a relationship with one client and reuse that relationship on your next project?

Whenever you book a new client you’re back at the beginning with trust. Not only is it difficult and time-consuming to build this trust up, you’ll also be less effective until you do. What might have been a 5 minute conversation with a trusted long-term client could be a lengthy discussion with a new client.

But what if you’re able to work with a client for 2 years at a time? That’s 2 years of trust you’ve built up. The kind of trust that would let both of you work effectively.

What if you don’t have to prospect for new clients all the time?

Just think of what you could do if you didn’t have to prospect and look for new clients every month. What if you only had to look every quarter? Or even just once per year?

Once you’ve established a long-term contract, you’ll be free from prospecting until that contract ends (in 12 or more months) or if you want to grow your business. You’ll no longer be at the beck-and-call of the market and have to snatch up every potential client, fearful that they are the last.

What if you can pick the best clients to work with?

You have to pick your clients just like they pick you. There have been times I’ve worked with a so-so client because they were the only ones who I could find.

But what if you could build up a set of long-term contracts with good clients? Scratch that, with great clients. You’ll have the freedom and flexibility to say no and turn down clients who aren’t a good match for you.

Everything I know about long-term contracts

The Freelancer’s Guide to Long-Term Contracts is a training system that you can use to find, win, and keep clients for the long-term. Not a long-term measured in months, but one measured in years. This comes directly from my experience working with long-term clients of my own, one of whom I worked with for 5 years straight.

Curtis McHale
I’ve been wanting to change my pricing model to weekly for a while but have been struggling to do so. A few chats with Eric and I was able to book in the next client (within days) with my new pricing model easy. Eric gave me solid pricing and positioning advice, which was just what I needed.

–Curtis McHale, http://curtismchale.ca

What’s in the ebook?

  • What is meant by a long-term contract?
  • The Long-Term Contracts Framework.
  • Using long-term contracts as your top tier service.
  • Different types of long-term contracts.
  • Scheduling a long-term contract.
  • How to prepare your business for long-term contracts.
  • Risks with a long-term contract.
  • How to find clients who would fit a long-term contract.
  • Getting better payment terms.
  • Building trust with a client.
  • Taking time off.
  • Getting non-project stuff done.
  • Dealing with problems.
  • Ending a long-term contract.

Complete Package $249

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The Complete Package has everything you need to find, win, and keep long-term contracts. I’ve filled this one with as much as I know about long-term contracts.

  • The Freelancer’s Guide to Long-Term Contracts is an 76 page PDF ebook filled with what long-term contracts are, how to prepare yourself for them, how to find clients and win their trust, and much more.
  • Mobi and ePub mobile formats to make it easy to read on your Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader. (As an avid Kindle reader, I know how great it is to read a well formatted ebook).
  • My own contract templates that I’ve used to sign my own long-term contracts with. Both my Master Services Agreement and Statement of Work are included in both Microsoft Word and OpenOffice formats. I spent $1,500 to have these developed specifically for my freelance business.
  • 7 HD videos expanding on the content from the book and giving additional examples for over 70 minutes.
    • Scheduling a long-term contract using both of the methods I teach in the ebook
    • My process from contact to contract. How I first communicate to a potential client all the way to how I decide what to pitch them in other to fulfill their and my goals.
    • How you can build a suite of services.
    • Three videos on building trust with a client at the critical stages in your relationship: before they contact you, after they contacted you, and when they finally become your client. These are jammed pack with the best marketing tactics for freelancers that I’ve used.
  • MP3 versions of every video so you can listen to them on the go (or at double speed for you fast learners).
  • A Quick Start Checklist to help you schedule everything you need to transition to long-term contracts.
  • My Budget Checkin Template and Progress Report Template that I use to keep my clients in the loop with the contract and prevent them from canceling it.
  • A private 30 minute 1-on-1 consultation with me to work through setting up and starting your own long-term contracts.

Matt Sears
After this training I’ve started to revamp how we do business with clients. Long-term contracts are a key piece of that.

–Matt Sears, http://www.littlelines.com

Little Bit of Everything $99

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If you’d like something a bit smaller, the Little Bit of Everything is for you.

  • The Freelancer’s Guide to Long-Term Contracts is an 76 page PDF ebook filled with what long-term contracts are, how to prepare yourself for them, how to find clients and win their trust, and much more.
  • Mobi and ePub mobile formats to make it easy to read on your Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader. (As an avid Kindle reader, I know how great it is to read a well formatted ebook).
  • 3 HD videos expanding on the content from the book and giving additional examples for over 18 minutes.
    • Scheduling a long-term contract using both of the methods I teach in the ebook
    • My process from contact to contract. How I first communicate to a potential client all the way to how I decide what to pitch them in other to fulfill their and my goals.
  • MP3 versions of every video so you can listen to them on the go (or at double speed for you fast learners).
  • A Quick Start Checklist to help you schedule everything you need to transition to long-term contracts.
  • My Budget Checkin Template and Progress Report Template that I use to keep my clients in the loop with the contract and prevent them from canceling it.

The Book $39

The Freelancer's Guide to Long-Term Contracts

Finally, there is the book. Don’t let it fool you though, it still has everything I know about long-term contracts and will teach you how to win them. You’ll just need to put in a bit of do-it-yourself (DIY) work which the other packages do for you.

So if budget is an issue, I’d recommend getting the book. You can always upgrade later.

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About the Author

Eric Davis

Hi, I’m Eric Davis, a developer, author, and freelancer. I started freelancing in 2007 and went full-time right away. Since then I’ve worked with clients around the world to improve their business through the use of software.

I’ve always had a passion for business, with my freelance business (Little Stream Software) the latest one I’ve created. Knowing the business side of freelancing has helped me grow and position my business so it’s profitable, enjoyable, and live the lifestyle that I what. It’s one of my goals to teach what I know to other freelancers.

My guarantee

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I want to see your freelance business succeed. If this doesn’t help you within 30 days, contact me and I’ll refund your money.

  • The Book

    • The Book in PDF, ePub, and Mobi formats

    Buy Now for $39

  • Little Bit of Everything

    • The Book in PDF, ePub, and Mobi formats
    • 3 HD training videos with over 18 minutes of training
    • mp3 audio of the training
    • Quick Start Checklist
    • Budget Checkin Template
    • Progress Report Template

    Buy Now for $99

  • Complete Package

    • The Book in PDF, ePub, and Mobi formats
    • Two contract templates: Master Services Agreement and Statement of Work
    • 7 HD training videos with over 70 minutes of training
    • mp3 audio of the training
    • Quick Start Checklist
    • Budget Checkin Template
    • Progress Report Template
    • Private 30 minute 1-on-1 consultation with me

    Buy Now for $249

P.S. Long-term contracts have been the one technique that really made my freelance business a success. So successful in fact that I’m able to work one week each month, taking the rest of the month off, and still make enough to live off of. I really hope I can teach you how to do the same in your business.